Access, completion and now post-graduation success


A new report from Excelencia in Education highlights how seven higher education institutions — three community colleges among them — are developing efforts to ensure their students succeed after completion, whether in further education, careers or civic life.

“Post-completion success for Latino students is a conscious campus conversation that is gaining traction and support in a growing number of institutions,” the report says.

It adds that while Latino enrollment and completion continue to increase, there is still a growing gap of Latino representation in high-paying jobs.

“Latino completion rates are not increasing fast enough to fully meet the needs of today’s economy and increase the representation of Latino in high-paying jobs,” the report says. “Latino representation within the workforce is projected to increase by 3% per year, yet Latinos remain largely represented in low-paying jobs.”

Three common threads

Among the seven colleges and universities — which include Austin Community College in Texas, Long Beach City College in California and Wilbur Wright College in Illinois — Excelencia identified three common strengths they shared to advance post-completion success efforts with the intention to serve Latino completers. The institutions:

• Offer culturally relevant institutional practices designed to accelerate Latino post-completion success. Specifically, institutions offer wrap-around services for completers, provide professional identity affirming experiences, and provide intentional and timely career readiness and job placement experiences, programming and services, the report says.

“From lifetime access to career services to engaging in an active post-completion network, [the] institutions’ efforts demonstrated the importance of extending services beyond completion to aid completers in their continued educational and professional development,” it says.

• Provide custom measures and metrics to track post-completion success outcomes. Institutional post-completion measures and metrics are mainly focused on salary, employment, transfer to a four-year, military enlistment and continuation to graduate education, the report says. Additionally, some institutions are now interested in considering new aspirational measures and metrics (such as social capital and applied competencies) to track post-completion success.

• Show progress in closing post-completion success equity gaps for Latino completers. The majority of institutions analyzed data disaggregated by race/ethnicity to determine whether equity gaps existed on their campuses. Some institutions report equity gaps among various outcomes (such as salary, employment and internships), the report says. However, in some cases, the gaps are not as large as some might assume, it adds.

Create a plan

The report lays out a plan for colleges that want to pursue developing a strategy to better serve Latino completers.

• Ignite the post-completion access conversation. The participating institutions created a team of campus stakeholders to begin and/or continue the post-completion success conversation on their campus, the report says. It comprises institutional leaders from alumni relations, career services, workforce development and others. “An institutional team can lead the campus conversation by discussing post-completion definitions, deconstructing their definition and reconstructing it with intentional measures to track the success of their Latino students after completion,” the report says.

• Discover post-completion success data sources. For institutions looking to learn more about their collection efforts, institutions can identify what post-completion success data is currently collected, the frequency of data collection, where the data is kept, and the responsible parties charged with gathering the data, the report says.

• Identify post-completion success key performance indicators. Institutions in the study identified current and aspirational key indicators that aligned with their definition of post-completion success. Excelencia notes that institutions looking to articulate their impact post-completion are using such indicators to tell their institutional story. “These inclusive indicators articulate the value-add to the life of a completer and the impact of an intentionally designed educational experience,” it says.

• Develop an institution-level post-completion success strategy. Institutional leaders looking to advance their post-completion work can take an institutional-level approach to post-completion success to better serve their completers and identify strategic areas to prepare, transition, and support their students after completion.

• Implement evidence-based practices that serve completers. Institutional leaders looking to advance their post-completion efforts see completers as an essential population to scale up efforts and programs to intentionally engage them in experiences that foster professional development, career advancement, and personal well-being.

Looking ahead

The seven participating institutions also shared potential areas of opportunity to expand their work. Excelencia identified three main areas of growth that institutions considered in their post-completion success efforts. These institutions seek to:

• Deepen their knowledge of data collection efforts and align measures to track post-completion success in both the short and long term.
• Forge intentional connections with employers and industries looking to diversify their employment pool.
• Make the case to institutional leadership for intentionally serving completers at their institution.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.